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Third party chargers.

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Rasmus, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    660
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    Coming back from a Peru trip that among other things included staying in a lodge off the grid I was often reminded of how the E-M1 sucks at being off the grid. I brought five batteries (four OEM, one third party) and whenever I had grid access I needed to make sure I recharged all batteries (the batteries in my FL-50 also died at the beginning on a night trip, ARGH!) before it was time to go. I brought two OEM chargers but often had trouble finding two power outlets.

    I guess one way to remedy it is to bring loads of batteries, which somewhat defeats the purpose of having a small camera.

    Me, I'd rather find a solution for charging off-grid. Solar is nice, but often just being able to charge batteries in the car, or from a huge battery would do, and anyway many things can give 12v DC. Also, we all know that 5v-ish USB won't do much to a 7.6v BLN-1, which rules out a number of small usb-only chargers that seem neat and cheap.

    I did bring a Hähnel Unipal plus, which actually turned out better than nothing, but keeping the contact pins in contact with the battery proved a challenge on bumpy roads. Also, it only charges to 7.4 v, so the BLN-1 never charges fully.

    I'm mostly interested in anything that can give the OEM battery a good charge. I have considered the Voltaic BLN-1 cradle, because it likely works well with their solar panels and battery packs. Then there's things like the Watson dual charger, which charges two batteries at once and from the same power outlet, but it seems bulkier than two single chargers. According to the reviews it's another charger that doesn't give the battery a full charge. There seems to be tons of other chargers, but they often sell together with some 3rd party batteries, which makes me suspect that they might not do a very good job with the OEM battery.

    Have you tried any of these options?
     
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  2. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    I have tried this yet but plan to give one of these chargers a shot powering it off my bicycle dynamo via a Busch & Muller e-Werk. The chargers a generic type which can be purchased from eBay for quite a bit less. I have one for another camera and do find the connection point is not that tight so that may turn out to be an issue similar to your bumpy road.

    BTW your links do not seem to be formatted correctly.

    Andrew
     
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  3. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
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  4. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    715
    Jul 23, 2010
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  5. Tinderbox (UK)

    Tinderbox (UK) Mu-43 Regular

    5 Volt USB chargers boost the voltage to the 8.4v internally, but the original charger charges to 8.6v so third-party chargers don't full charge the battery`s "let me know if you find one that does", this is a good and a bad thing, the bad is you will get less photo`s or video if the third-party battery is the same capacity as the oem one, the good is the lower full charge voltage of 8.4v will do less damage to the 8.6v battery as when you charge a li-ion battery to 100% it causes a little bit of damage, draining the battery to 0% also does damage as well and it all adds up.

    Look at the link below, it will describe how you can extend the amount of charge cycles your battery will give considerably by not charging to 100% and not draining to 0% , you can double or triple the battery charge cycles, though this might be more trouble than it`s worth if you can find a good priced third-party battery

    I have some Ex-Pro BLN-1 Battery`s on order, they are supposedly able to be charged in the OEM charger.

    http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

    John.
     
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  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Yup. I use nothing but third party chargers because the Panny OEM chargers are bulky and need power cords. And, other than the batteries that come in the cameras, I use nothing but third party batteries.

    The charger I use is sold by many vendors on eBay. It's this one:
    IMG_0163.
    The photo illustrates something interesting about the chargers that isn't mentioned on any eBay listing that I have seen: They actually comprise a power base and a battery tray that snap together. The power bases I have are all marked "8.4v" but I assume there are other flavors. There are two types of bases, both have the folding USA flat-pin plug. One type also comes with a curly cord and plug that lets you charge in a car. I have never seen the two pieces sold separately, but if you're traveling with multiple battery sizes and don't need to charge them all simultaneously you can save a little bulk and weight by just carrying a couple of bases plus trays for all your battery varieties.

    Re third party batteries I have seen a mega-thread here but haven't had the interest level necessary to slog thorough it. My short version: I have never had a problem and when I have weighed third-party batteries they always weigh the same as OEM batteries, so I am pretty sure that I am not being shorted on battery compound volume -- which is a way they could save a few cents in manufacturing cost.

    Re finding power outlets, when I travel I carry a home-made multi-outlet "thing." It has multple outlets spliced into a short cord with a single plug. It is much more compact than carrying an outlet strip and often you can't use all the outlets on a strip due to the size of chargers. With my "thing" I can plug in six battery chargers simultaneous and I only need one plug adapter when traveling outside areas with US style outlets. My original one had six sockets individually wired together but I just made a less-bulky and ligher weight one by cutting the "heads" off two Home Depot 2-wire extension cords and splicing them together leaving about two feet of wire on the plug, Six seems to be a pretty good number for us, traveling with 2x phones, 2x tablets, 3x camera bodies, and probably six or eight total spare batteries. The price of progress, I guess.
     
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  7. Tinderbox (UK)

    Tinderbox (UK) Mu-43 Regular

    When i get a extra charger i always get an USB one, you should only charge a li-ion battery at half it`s rated capacity, so a 1200mah battery should not be charged at more that 600ma , so i prefer a slow charger over a fast one as they are more gentle on the battery as long as you have the time.

    John.
     
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I am much less respectful of my batteries. The faster the charge, the better. They are cheap, small, and light. So it's relatively easy to carry enough and if one dies after even 50 cycles I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I have used a soldering iron to melt numbers into all my batteries, so if one of them gets flaky more than once, I know it and it goes into the trash. That said, I only remember having to toss a battery once.
     
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  9. Tinderbox (UK)

    Tinderbox (UK) Mu-43 Regular

    Now that does not sound very environmental, what about an 8 hour solar charger :)

    John.
     
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  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    :smile: Out of seven billion, there are a billion people in the world that have no access to electricity and another billion or two where access is limited. Those people are not going to be satisfied to sit in the dark and sweat or freeze; they are going to insist on getting power and in most cases the the only technically and only economically feasible way for their governments to provide it is with coal. China already emits over 150% of the carbon that the US emits and with per capita electricity consumption less than 25% of US consumption, that is just the beginning. The point of this being that charging a few batteries with solar cells has about the same impact as a suburb full of soccer moms running around in Priuses. Zero.

    If it makes you feel good, though, do it.
     
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  11. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Except for backpacking, all of my travel has had access to either house mains or auto. There are plenty of small 12v inverters that can power 1 or more battery chargers.

    That leaves finding a reasonable12 vdc BLN-1 charger & there are several including the one old racer pictured. They may be harder on the batteries because they don't monitor cell balance but that doesn't seem like much of a problem even for OEM batteries at least for a few charges.

    So that seems the simplest & cheapest solution for most types of travel isn't it?
     
  12. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    What's the best 12v solar charger any of you have found? The fold up units I've found have been pretty big.
     
  13. Tinderbox (UK)

    Tinderbox (UK) Mu-43 Regular

    • Like Like x 1
  14. hemuni

    hemuni Mu-43 Regular

    87
    Jun 18, 2014
    I think your best option is usb chargers. They are small and very flexible in letting you charge of anything with an usb outlet. My ble9's charge to about 8.45v on a cheap usb charger I got of ebay. With a belkin dual usb car charger that lets out 1A in each port, you can charge two batteries in 2-3 hours. Wrap a rubberband around the battery and charger to keep in charging in rough terrain. I also use a 7000mah backup battery with a 1A usb outlet to charge on the go.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/151235245606?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
     
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  15. Tinderbox (UK)

    Tinderbox (UK) Mu-43 Regular

    That is the brand of USB charger i am looking at for my Olympus BLN-1 battery`s

    John.

     
  16. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Had been looking for 12V chargers & hadn't realized its possible for USB chargers to do the job. That's helpful for both solar & 12v car outlets.

    So what do you use as a tray to hold the BLN-1? Do you simply connect at 12vdc BLN-1 to the USB port?
     
  17. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Yes, had seen this one. Nice unit.

    Solar panel=0.8 lbs, add a battery cradle of some kind+cable & you've got maybe a lb total. That's the weight of 8-9 BLN-1s so depending on usage, you'd need to be out more than 4-8 days before there is a weight advantage of the solar charger. And you'll need reliable sun w/ above freezing temps. There are certainly trips where that works like many float trips.

    I keep coming to the conclusion that backpacking that I do in heavy forest & deep canyons just isn't a good candidate for solar charging unfortunately-:)
     
  18. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    USB ports can only be 5VDC.

    Barry
     
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  19. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    What USB charger are you referring to? I don't recall seeing any mention of USB powered chargers (as opposed to chargers with USB outputs) that are suitable. The output from USB chargers are as far as I know 5v, not the higher voltages associated with camera batteries such as the BLN-1.

    Andrew
     
  20. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    This response above seems to say a USB charger will charge BLN-1s. Right/wrong/I misunderstood?